UK and France announce plan to target human traffickers

Countries declare efforts to fortify surveillance of Channel Tunnel and joint police force to target human traffickers.

Migrants who seek asylum gather outside the Sous-Prefecture building in Calais
Since the start of June, at least 10 people have died trying to enter the UK through the Channel Tunnel [Reuters]

Britain and France have announced boosted security efforts to prevent thousands of people living in makeshift camps in Calais from reaching the UK through the Channel Tunnel.

Many of the people are refugees, but Britain says others are economic migrants who want to enter the country illegally.

After visiting the tunnel on Thursday, British Interior Minister Theresa May and her French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve declared plans for a “substantial” increase of security guards, higher fences, surveillance cameras, floodlighting and infrared detection technology.

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The ministers also announced a new joint police command to target human traffickers.

Since the start of June, at least 10 people have died trying to enter the UK through the Channel Tunnel, with Britain and France both accusing each other of not doing enough to manage the issue.

An estimated 3,000 people are camped in unsanitary, hungry conditions in Calais with more arriving and leaving daily, however, the moves focus more on policing than humanitarian efforts.

Elsewhere in Europe this year, Germany has seen 360,000 refugees arrive and 160,000 refugees have reached Greek shores.

Distinguishing refugees

May said it was import to distinguishing between refugees fleeing war or persecution and migrants coming illegally to seek better economic prospects.

“It’s a problem that starts elsewhere in the world with migrants trying to come abroad with organised criminal gangs,” she said on Thursday.

Britain will increase monitoring of other North Sea ports as the crackdown on Calais pushes people to other potential departure points, she said.


The two countries announced a new joint police command centre to coordinate intelligence to disrupt human-trafficking gangs.

The overall cost of the measures was not disclosed.

But a joint statement said Britain would provide an additional $5.6m a year for the next two years for identifying and protecting the most vulnerable refugess, particularly women and children – and on sending economic migrants home.

Cazeneuve said French authorities have dismantled 19 trafficking networks this year.

There are now about 400 surveillance cameras, 200 French guards and 500 other French security forces surrounding the area near the tunnel entrance, British officials said.

Britain has financed four-metre-high border fences that Eurotunnel spokesman Romain Dufour says have reduced the numbers of people trying to enter the Channel Tunnel considerably.

Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, on Thursday praised the new measures and urged more “legal avenues for people in need of protection to come to Europe,” particularly from war zones.

Source: AP